Many at times patients lose their tooth or teeth through a number of conditions such as:
Traumatic avulsion(pulling away) and periodontal (gum) diseases damaging the supporting structures of the tooth and mostly through extraction due to the under listed reasons:
- Teeth severely damaged by caries, retained roots
- Tooth with infections that can neither be preserved endodontically or through apical surgeries
- Teeth destroyed by trauma such as vertical (longitudinal) fractures
- During tumour surgery, teeth located within the area of the tumour
Replacing of missing tooth goes a long way to improve the way you look and boost your confidence. It also helps you to eat by improving your chewing efficacy and improves your speech especially if the tooth lost is in front. Ultimately it helps keep mouth healthy by preventing movement of adjacent and opposing teeth.
Effect of missing teeth
Absence of teeth can greatly affect occlusion by interfering with the way the rest of the teeth bite together. Missing teeth results in tilting and drifting of the remaining teeth into the space leading to food trapping which finally results in tooth decay and gum disease. If lots of your teeth are missing, your facial muscles can become saggy. This may affect the way you look, and make it harder for you to speak clearly.
There are several ways to replace missing teeth, they involve using dentures, bridges and implants. Your dentist will help you decide which option is best for you. Choice mostly depends on financial status of the individual and also the conditions of the oral cavity structures and remaining teeth present. Replacement teeth are made to match the colour of your natural teeth as closely as possible. Your options for treatment may include:
Dentures – removable plastic or metal frameworks that carry false teeth
Bridges – false teeth that are fixed onto adjacent natural teeth and cannot be removed by the patient
Dental Implants – false teeth fitted on top of a titanium implant that is fixed directly into your jawbone (the bone of your jaw then fuses to the titanium)
Dentures are prosthetic devices fabricated to replace missing teeth. Dentures are removable and are of two types i.e. partial and complete dentures.
Partial dentures are made for those missing some teeth in a particular arch whereas complete dentures are fabricated for patient who are missing all the teeth in a particular arch.
Complete upper dentures cover the roof of your mouth (palate). A very thin layer of saliva between your palate and the denture creates suction, which keeps the denture firmly in position. Your facial muscles and tongue also help to keep it in place.
Full lower dentures are often more difficult to keep in place because there is less support from your gums. It can be difficult to balance the denture against your cheeks and tongue. However, this should improve with time as you get used to it.
It’s very important to have realistic expectations of dentures. Getting used to them will take time. Your mouth may feel a bit sore and uncomfortable to start with. You may find some words difficult to pronounce at first, but this usually improves with time.
Care for denture
With dentures it is very important to keep them clean. Clean your dentures after every meal using a soft toothbrush and soap. It’s a good idea to brush them over a bowl of water or a towel to prevent damaging your dentures if you drop them. Ensure that you clean all the surfaces of your dentures, including the areas that sit against your gums. You can then soak them in a denture cleaning solution, if you wish, as this may help to remove any stains. Then brush your dentures again.
It’s important to take your dentures out at night to allow your mouth to rest. Doing this can also help to prevent infections, such as fungal infections. Leave them in a glass of water overnight so they don’t dry out.
Dentures are made of acrylic, chrome-cobalt or valplast (a flexible denture).
Bridges are often recommended when there is loss of one or two teeth and an implant is not suitable for the patient. A bridge is made up of two crowns one on each tooth on either side of the gap. The anchoring teeth are called abutment and the false tooth or teeth is called a pontic. In this way, your new false tooth is held firmly in place by your own teeth on either side.
Bridges are made of porcelain and/or metal and there are many designs and are cemented onto the natural teeth making removal impossible. Choice of bridge design depends on the location of your missing tooth and the condition of your mouth, teeth and gums.
The gap under the bridge is cleaned with a special dental floss to prevent damage to the natural teeth. Another type of bridge called an adhesive bridge has wings that your dentist bonds to the back of your supporting teeth.
A dental implant is a metal rod (titanium or titanium alloy) that is surgically inserted into bone and used as anchors to support a prosthetic. It replaces missing teeth in partially and/or fully edentulous area. Implants rely on integration with natural bone for retention and stability thus potential for ultimate stability for prosthetic.
Dentures or bridges can be screwed or clipped onto the implant. Dentures and bridges that are supported by successful implants tend to be very secure. Having an implant is a surgical procedure. You need to have healthy gums, and if you smoke, your dentist may not recommend implants as it can affect the success of your treatment.